A Biometric Information Privacy Act Complaint against Amazon was removed to the Northern District of Illinois on Wednesday morning. The class action Complaint alleges that Amazon unlawfully obtained biometric information of its employees at several locations.
Notably, the suit states that it is unclear how long Amazon stores the biometric information, which likely runs afoul of the Illinois statute. Among other portions of the Act, the Complaint alleges that Amazon knowingly disregarded the requirements to inform employees that biometric information was being collected, that a written release be obtained prior, and that the company was profiting off of the information.
One particularly interesting element of the Factual Background portion of the Complaint is its explanation of BIPA, including references to its legislative history. Specifically, the Complaint outlines how BIPA was created after Pay by Touch, which provided fingerprint scanners to grocery retailers specifically across Illinois, filed for bankruptcy, and as a result, the General Assembly was concerned about how said information might be subsequently sold in the bankruptcy proceedings.
Among the issues with Amazon’s technology, includes its facial recognition technology, which collects, maintains, and utilizes information of its individual employees. Not only does Amazon collect the information through the technology, per the Complaint, but it also stores the information in a searchable format through various databases.
While many raise issues regarding how BIPA has adversely impacted employers who may not have been aware of the violations, the alleged issues here involve the use of biometric collection information as recent as earlier this year.
The Complaint alleges that despite Amazon surely being aware of the Illinois law, it has at least thousands of these types of factual recognition cameras across its facilities in the state of Illinois.
The causes of action listed in the complaint include: 1.) Failure to Institute, Maintain, and Adhere to Publicly Available Retention Schedule and Destruction Guidelines, pursuant to 740 ILCS Section 14/15(a); Failure to Obtain Informed Written Consent and Release Before Collecting or Obtaining Biometric Identifiers or Information, pursuant to 740 ILCS Section 14/15(b); Sale, Lease, Trade, or Otherwise Profit from Biometric Identifiers and Information, pursuant to 740 ILCS Section 14/15(c); and Disclosure or Dissemination of Biometric Identifiers and Information Before Obtaining Consent, pursuant to 740 ILCS Section 14/15(d).
The Prayer for Relief portion asks the court to rule on the aforementioned issues, as well as injunctive relief, and attorney’s fees. It seems like every day, there is a new suit filed under the Biometric Information Privacy Act, these sorts of claims surely do not appear to be going away anytime soon.
Jake A. Leahy